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The Union and Its Territories

Authored By- Tanvi Gupta

Keywords- Bharat, Admission, Alteration, and Parliament


India is generally referred to ‘Bharat’ and has its significance in Indian History. This word has its origin from Sanskrit Language meaning fire. Part I of the Indian Constitution deals with the Union and its territories and part come under Article 1-4. Article 1 to 4 of the Indian Constitution deals with the formation of the Union of States, Acquiring new foreign territories, and alteration of existing boundaries and State Names. Part I gives exclusive and sweeping Powers to the Parliament.


The Constitution of India is a supreme law of India. Before Independence, India was divided into 565 princely states. Article 3 of the Constitution gives the power to form a new State from existing territory however, this law is not applicable to Schedule and Tribal Area as they are self-incorporated under Article 224 as expressed in Part VI of the Constitution.

India, a Union of States [Article 1(1)]

Article 1(1) describes India i.e. Bharat as a “Union of States”. The drafting committee had emphasized the word ‘Union’ rather than ‘federation’ as it is indissoluble i.e. Indian federation is not a result of state agreement of the units constituted hence, they have no right to withdraw. Furthermore, States have no freedom to break away from the Union so created.[1] India is one unit divided into different States for the convenience of governance. The ultimate goal of the drafting committee was to give clarity before any civil war arises like in America.

Territory of India [Article 1(2) & (3)]

India at the time of formation on 26th January 1950 was divided into four parts A, B, C, and D. Part A constituted of provinces of the former governors, Part B included the former Princely States, Part C states comprised both the provinces of the former chief Commissioners and some of the Princely States and Part D constituted of the only territory Andaman & Nicobar Island.

This Classification was abolished by the State Reorganization Act, 1956 or Seventh Constitutional Amendment Act, 1956 which reduced the classification into two only, States and the Union Territories. These changes were made on the recommendation of the First State Reorganization commission, 1956 headed by Justice Fazal Ali. There are at present 28 States and 9 Union Territories.

The basic difference between State and Union Territories is different governing bodies. Part- VI of the Constitution defines States which are governed by the separate government while Union Territory under Part VIII is centrally administered, governed by the President of India through an administrator appointed by him. Generally, there is a misconception of whom to be sued in any case in regards to UT. In the historical judgement of ‘Re Berubari Union and Exchange of Enclaves’[2] it was clarified that suit against UT must be brought against the administration of the UT and not against Central Government.

Article 1 (3)(c) specifies that India has the inherent right to acquire any foreign territory. This acquisition once made and declared by the Government shall be binding on the Court. The acquired territory can continue pre-acquisition laws only if recognized by the Government of India.

Admission or Establishment of New States (Article 2)

Article 2 deals with the admission or establishment of new states, which may be formed of foreign territories and later becomes part of the territory of India. E.g. Sikkim. The conditions to admit new states are laid down by “Parliament” by Law. This is different from the US as it follows the principle of equality and hence, once the State is admitted it is not bound by any limitation outside the federal. However, in India Parliament has the power to set terms and conditions as it deems fit.

Formation of New States and Alteration of area or boundaries (Article 3)

Article 3 empowers the Parliament to form new states after the reorganization of the existing states which are already a part of India. This can be formed in the following 4 ways:

1. By separation of territories from any State

2. By uniting 2 or more States

3. By uniting Part of States

4. By uniting any territory to a part of any State.

In re Berubari Union and Exchange of Enclaves[3] it was observed that Article 3 did not refer to Union Territories. To provide for this omission the Eighteenth Amendment inserted Explanation I to make it clear that State includes Union Territory.

Recently, On 31st October 2019, Under Article 3 former State Jammu and Kashmir were reconstituted into two union territories Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh. Also, in the year 2014, the State of Telangana was formed by the Andhra Pradesh Reorganization Act, 2014. For Instance, the area of the State of West Bengal was increased by the merger with it of the territory of Chandernagore.

Power of Parliament

Under Article 3 of the Indian, Constitution Parliament has the power to increase or diminish the area of any State of altering any boundary or change any name by established procedure. This bill can be introduced before any house only on the recommendation of the President of India. If the bill is concerned with boundary or alteration of the name then it will be produced by President before State Legislature before Parliament. The State Legislature has to express their views in the given period or they are deemed expressed. These views are not binding on Parliament. In the case of UT, it not necessary to present a bill before the Legislature of UT.

Laws made under Article 2 & 3 to provide for supplemental, incidental, and consequential Matters

Article 4 states that any law referred under Article 2 or Article 3 must provide for the amendment of First Schedule (List of State and UT’s) and Fourth Schedule (Rajya Sabha Seat Allocation). In simpler words, while making changes to the territory of India under Article 2 and 3 it is not necessary to consider it as Amendment to Indian Constitution. This was done keeping in mind the initial scenario in India with 357 Princely States.

Cession of Indian Territory to a Foreign State

Cession of territory means the transfer of sovereignty over the territory from one such State to another. There is no express provision for the same however, it was clarified in Berubari Case, that Indian territory can be ceded to a foreign state only by amending the Constitution Under Article 368. Consequently, the 9th Constitutional Amendment Act (1960) was enacted to transfer the said territory to Pakistan. Supreme Court in 1960 ruled that the Settlement of a boundary dispute between India and another Country does not require a Constitutional amendment. It can be done by executive action as it does not involve cession of Indian territory to a foreign country.


Parliament while playing a vital role in framing laws for the welfare of the State holds a due responsibility to on Members to ensure there is no hindrance to the Basic Structure of the constitution or derogation of Constitutional Law.

[1] Raja Ram Pal v. Hon’ble Speaker, (2007) 3 SCC 184 [2] AIR 1960 SC 845 [3] Ibid






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